Monthly Archives: July 2011

Five years (so far)

Tonight was my five-year anniversary. We already celebrated, mostly, with our trip to Florida, but we took a trip to a new restaurant tonight. At any rate, that made for another late night, so I’ll make some quick notes on today’s news and call it a day.

  • This Ocarina million-seller story made for an interesting wrinkle. SSF4 only shipped a million units, and Nintendogs+cats sold a million with a combined SKU. I’m glad we issued the correction for the sake of transparency and accuracy, but both of those seem more like technicalities to me. By itself and counting sales, I think Zelda still probably made it to the 1 million finish line first.
  • The iPhone seems right up the alley of a developer like PopCap, so this news isn’t surprising. It makes a lot of sense that they’d reorganize a bit.

Night thoughts (and new RPR incoming)

It’s a late night because Bryan and I had a night recording of NPR. Those tend to work out best for our schedules. So I’ll keep this brief and just go over some of the news highlights from today:

  • Not surprising, given the info we had yesterday, but I’m glad EA stepped in to confirm it. They really aren’t at fault here. The commenters at Shack seem unconvinced.
  • I enjoyed the first Resistance, far more than R2, but I loved the co-op mode of R2. I’m not big on multiplayer shooters in general, and it takes something special to grab my attention. All that said, I’ll need to try out the R3 beta to see if it has enough R2 DNA in it to hold my interest.
  • I’m excited about football coming back, and therefore excited about Madden. I might even pick it the game this year.
  • This digital sales push from GameStop is a weird move, but they’re kicking it off about as well as one could possibly expect. Throwing in freebies is a pretty fair trade for removing one of the major reasons people use digital distribution (i.e. from-home convenience).

From Dust first impressions

I enjoyed the Bastion first impressions so much last week that I thought I’d do it again for this week’s release, From Dust. Maybe I’ll make this a weekly thing for the rest of Summer of Arcade.

I’ve only played the first tutorial level so far, and it definitely comes with its own moderate pace. I’d like to see how they iterate on this idea to bring more challenges, and I can definitely see the point Brad made on Giant Bombcast about it feeling like PC controls would be more ideal. At the same time, it’s got a nicely defined world and an interesting hook, so I’m looking forward to diving in deeper.

By the way, finished Bastion, and it’s fantastic through-and-through. Maybe this time next week, I’ll be singing the praises of From Dust.

  • I’m noticing more and more 3DS titles getting pushed back or cancelled, which is making 2011 pretty sparse. I noted this phenomenon in the MGS 3D delay story.
  • This whole Steam thing is kind of turning into a mess, which makes explaining it pretty hard. As far as we can tell from the current information, Steam isn’t allowing games to carry new DLC if it can’t be sold directly through Steam. Crysis 2 and Dragon Age 2 violated that by selling through EA’s own portal with BioWare points. But older games that use that method are grandfathered in, which makes the whole thing kind of weird and inconsistent for fans. It’s actually kind of too bad that this is coinciding with the Origin stuff, because it’s just attracting a lot of negative attention at EA when they don’t really seem to be the ones at fault here.
  • That was nice of him. I doubt it will change anything, though. I say we should start a campaign to get MML1, 2, and MoTB re-releases or ports. It’s more likely to work and we already know the games are great.

BioWary

I’m pretty sure I played all of the Mass Effect 2 DLC, some of which is on sale now in case you’re curious. BioWare has a knack for making some excellent single-serving episodes, but some of them are significantly better than others. Now Dragon Age 2 has released its first bit of (meaty) DLC, and I’m torn.

On one hand, I did like Dragon Age 2 quite a bit, and I gave it a (controversial) favorable review for Shacknews. On the other hand, it’s a full ten bucks, and I’m going to be spending plenty of MS points collecting the Summer of Arcade. Plus, the DLC will inevitably, eventually, be discounted. That just means I’d have to hold onto DA2 and not trade it in, at least for a while.

I’ll probably at least wait for reviews. From Dust is coming tomorrow, so I wouldn’t have time in any event.

  • Kinect Now with Bears! is the greatest game name ever.
  • I only liked Darksiders, as opposed to the love heaped on it by a lot of fans, but the idea of rolling around as all four Horsemen sounds intriguing.
  • The previously mentioned Mass Effect 2 DLC sale. If you haven’t played it yet, get Shadow Broker. Arrival is a strong story set-up with short gameplay, and Kasumi is basically just a new character with a semi-interesting little story to go with it. Shadow Broker is the can’t-miss.

Summer of Our Disc-less Content

I was thinking a little bit today about the whole Summer of Arcade promotion, and it’s really a wonder that Sony and Nintendo haven’t stolen this idea yet. Promoting five games and offering a freebie for collecting them all just seems so obvious once it’s been done. It works out for the developers and publishers, gives a nice bump to Microsoft, and ensures fans that these games were hand-picked for a reason.

In fact, hand-picking games is really the standout feature of most worthwhile services. The iPhone market is so flooded with games that, without its user ratings and staff picks features, it would be nigh-impossible to find anything worthwhile. Steam highlights indie games of note too.

We’ve seen Nintendo imitating this a bit with staff picks on the 3DS, but they could take it further. We should really be seeing companies curate their best content. That goes for the PSN market, Wii and DSiWare, and the Xbox Indie Games channel.

It runs the risk of playing favorites, but as long as payola isn’t involved and the judgment is quality-based only, what’s the harm in playing favorites? Favorites exist for a reason. Favorites are favorites because they’re good. If you feel left out from the favorites list, make your next game better.

  • ohnoes gears is 4 babbies.
  • I hadn’t much thought about these RE remakes, but I might pick one up once they hit the bargain bin. I’ve already played plenty of RE4, but I’ve never touched Code Veronica. Oh wait, are we still hating Capcom? I’m told we’re still hating Capcom.
  • Requesting attorney reimbursement is a totally normal part of the legal process. Nonetheless, I had to laugh a little that Gallagher used the phrase “waste of taxpayers’ money” while requesting that the state pay the ESA a million bucks. Don’t get me wrong; the ESA deserves the money, but the irony isn’t lost on me.
  • There was some kind of big hubub at Amazon today over 3DS sales. We mostly sat on the story since we didn’t want to jump the gun. Apparently it’s solved now, and neither company is mentioning what happened, which means that we’ll almost certainly never know.

Captain America

We just got back from a showing of Captain America, and it’s pretty late, so I’ll jot down some thoughts quickly. I think the charisma of the lead performances really carried the movie, and some hokey dialogue aside, it really pulled off the feel of a classic adventure film. It had some overtones of Indiana Jones mixed with a war flick mixed with a superhero flick, and it pulled off all the parts well.

The romance seemed to have less screentime than the one in Thor, but the chemistry worked a lot better. I actually hoped they’d have the courage to end on a bittersweet note — Cap finding Peggy as an old woman (or her grave, or her daughter) would’ve felt a bit more like a complete story. This seemed to cut it off right before we got resolution. I know they wanted to end with an action beat and a quip, but the tragedy was left hanging.

Hugo Weaving did a fine job as Red Skull, and I didn’t mind that it strayed from the Nazis. RS is a more interesting “superhero” villain anyway, and this didn’t need to be Inglorious Cap. Besides, Hitler was a human being. Unless he had a Wolfenstein-style robotic suit, the ending would be incredibly anti-climactic. Cap punches Hitler. The end.

(Though that montage song with the joke-reference to punching Hitler was pretty catchy. Apparently penned by the guy behind The Little Mermaid and Tangled, so that make sense.)

On the whole, this was probably my favorite of the Avenger “establishing” films since Iron Man — the first, not the second. Thor wasn’t bad, and Hulk was serviceable, but the two Avengers leaders got the best origin stories of the bunch, and their respective movies reflect that.

Speaking of Avengers, I think the franchise-masters at Marvel made a smart move here with Chris Evans. Finding someone to match RDJ’s wit and charm isn’t easy, and I can see Evans going toe-to-toe with his more earnest approach. If the actor playing Cap was weak, the whole Avengers movie would fall apart and Downey Jr. would steal the show. As it stands, this gives me confidence that it will be about two leaders and their superhero team. Excellent.

I was disappointed that they didn’t screen the Spider-Man trailer with my showing, especially since I had held off watching it for that exact reason. I watched it at home, and boy howdy, they weren’t kidding about it looking like Mirror’s Edge. I half-expected Faith to be slinging webs.

As for the post-credits sequence, I could swear we saw a quarter-second of an updated Cap uniform. Maybe once it hits the net sans shakycam someone can pause for a clearer look at it.

  • Not what I expected from Inafune, but sure. Yes. Go for it.
  • I wonder when Plus members will get into the R3 beta. I’m not as interested as I could be, since they’re removing the co-op from R2, but I’d still like to give it a go.
  • If you wanted to get Gunstringer and/or Fruit Ninja, this is a good deal. I will retain my plan to get Fruit Ninja through normal purchasing, so I can score Crimson Alliance.
  • I suppose it had to come sometime, so with news reaching a fever pitch I nabbed the story about the fan reaction and PR blunders surrounding Mega Man Legends 3. Given my past with the series, I tried to give Capcom as fair a shake as I could. It sounds like Sven outright killed any hope of a revival at the panel tonight at SDCC, so that’s that. I presume.
  • This may just be my favorite story ever. We’re using a new strapline style to get people to click into the jump, and they let me keep my proposed one here: “Wait, what? Why?”
  • Well duh.
  • To people complaining about the cost-creep of XBLA titles, this seems like a pretty fair response. And though it’s a Microsoft rep talking about the Xbox, I think the same could easily be said for PSN games.

A reminder to read Locke & Key

I just finished the fourth trade edition of Locke & Key (Keys to the Kingdom), and it was unsurprisingly fantastic. Joe Hill’s writing keeps impressing me, and he manages to weave interesting one-off ideas into the main story. Each of the characters has surprising depth — the Sam Lesser arc is particularly fantastic — and there are moments in this latest edition that are both hideously gruesome and utterly heartbreaking. Sometimes simultaneously.

I gave the first trade to my wife to read, and flipping through it, I was actually struck how much Gabriel Rodriguez’ art has progressed. It always looked great, but it’s changed in subtle ways to make the heroes a little more relatable and the villains more gruesome.

The little index in the back of each book outlines which keys have been introduced so far. It’s somewhere in the teens now, and the creativity of all the different magical properties really keeps the world fresh. It maintains its own internal logic, but keeps things fantastical by continuing to introduce new elements.

So, to summarize: Locke & Key is fantastic, and quickly vying for my favorite non-superhero graphic novel series of all time. It will have a hard time displacing Y: The Last Man, but damned if it isn’t giving a a run for its money.

  • I really expected more outcry against the quote in this story about The Old Republic. It’s basically a BioWare boss saying they’re going to create artificial scarcity. Really? Not a single comment cared? Alright. No skin off my nose, but my Nerd Rage Detector was on the fritz or something.
  • I might attend a Zelda concert if it comes to the BSO. We’ve been there for Ben Folds.
  • As an Xbox 360 owner (twice!), I can’t really justify buying a new system. But my inner Star Wars nerd still thinks this special edition 360 looks amazing.
  • I really enjoyed writing this story, because it gave me the chance to nerd out about a nit-pick I’ve talked about with Bryan. Why the heck would Batman tolerate gang warfare, especially in his name?
  • Yes. I want to go to it. Shut up and take my money. Seriously, Rocksteady is probably working as hard as I’ve ever seen a developer to convince people to buy their sequel, when just “more Arkham Asylum” would probably be enough to convince most folks. Myself included.

Bastion first impressions

I’ve played about a half-hour of Bastion so far, and it’s definitely a charming game. The art style is gorgeous, and the plot is just vague enough to remain interesting as it gives more information. I’ll have to see how the rest of the Summer of Arcade stacks up, but this is a really strong way to start it.

  • I played a little (very little) of Pig Up! today, and it’s cute. But… it’s also Unpleasant Horse. I like that PopCap can make little fun game samplers and we can watch them develop into full games, and Pig Up is more fleshed out with upgrades and such. Still, I was a little bummed that I had done it before.
  • The full roster for Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 has to be some kind of new land-speed leak record.
  • I played quite a bit of Star Fox 64 back in the day, so I’ll probably have to at least try the 3D incarnation. I’m certain that my skills, which could at one point be described as “mad,” have faded into nothingness by now.

Trailer Leakapalooza

After seeing a shakycam version of the The Dark Knight Rises trailer and regretting it, and then a shakycam version of the Avengers trailer and regretting it, I’ve decided not to watch any of the leaked Spider-Man trailers going around. As much as I’d like to see it, I can wait until Friday or Saturday when I go to see Captain America. It is odd, though, how these trailers are leaking worse than a Sony E3 press conference.

(Boom!)

Bastion tomorrow. Psyched.

  • Collector’s Editions usually run the gamut from “terrible” to “okay” — if I pick one up, it’s almost always because I want the included DLC, rather than the cheap plastic trinkets that come in most of them. But the extras in Arkham City look kind of amazing. Now to scrounge up the money. You only need one kidney, right?
  • The official first Pokemon 3DS game is absolutely nothing like a traditional Pokemon game. Weird choice, but maybe it’ll be fun.
  • I always think it’s funny when a game publisher delays a game, and in the press announcement positions it as “confirming release dates.” Sega had already given release dates for these games. It was a delay.

RIP Mega Man Legends 3

My friend Bryan has had a sinking feeling about Mega Man Legends 3, ever since Prototype got delayed from the 3DS shop channel. I tried to be a bit more optimistic, but it had been quite a while since we heard word. When it got pulled from Capcom Japan’s page last week, I figured its time was short.

Capcom confirmed that tonight with the announcement that the game had been canceled. On one hand, I’m as upset as any Legends fan, because that series was killed in the midst of its prime, and we haven’t seen any new entries for years. It’s such a wonderfully imagined world with likable characters, it’s rich for more mining.

On the other hand, the spirit of the Legends games was always in its fun characters, great voice acting, and heart. I’m not sure Capcom could’ve captured that again, as the new batch just doesn’t seem to have that same old spirit. Plus, the new character did nothing for me. He looked like Axl Redux.

(Axl, for those less informed on matters of Mega Man, was a super-lame character introduced late in the MMX series.)

So, I’m crushed, of course, but I also saw it coming, and had a bit of skepticism about the project anyway. It would’ve been nice to try the Prototype, at the very least to judge for ourselves if the game was worth pining over.

Might I suggest a different way to continue everything we like about Legends for dirt cheap? Make it a comic book. You already have a great artist on the Classic series. Give him another job drawing Legends and get some talented writers on board. I’m more interested to see where that story goes than I am in actually playing the game, so let us see it in some semi-official capacity. Heck, just add a couple pages to the back of the existing comics with mini-episodes. I’d actually buy those issues, and Bryan will attest, I never buy single-issues of comics.

Yeah. I know that won’t happen. It’s nice to want things.

  • The chance to seeing Grunts starting a chain reaction of death might just be enough to make me pre-order Halo Anniversary.
  • I’m not sure how inclined I’ll be to buy up indie games after buying up a bunch of Summer of Arcade games, but I’ll have to give these a looksee. It’s just too bad Zeboyd isn’t pushing out another RPG this year, since I love Breath of Death and Cthulu.
  • The EA/Steam saga continues.
  • You know how you solve a tired series? Torture the hero a bit.